Heart and Soul

My parents attend a small church in Wye Mountain, Arkansas. The people are kind and serve as a beautiful light in their community. Each Wednesday evening they welcome, feed, love, and teach a large group of children. And those without transportation? They pick them up and take them back home.

The building is simple. A beautiful, stained glass window graces the wall behind the podium. A piano sits to the left. There are no fancy lights, no choir, and no band. Only a few microphones and speakers. And there is always coffee in the kitchen.

Every time I visit, mom asks me to bring piano music. My trip last weekend was no different. Of course, I forgot and had to go music shopping on Saturday. I chose a new book of hymn arrangements and picked two to play during the service on Sunday.

My Aunt Linda, who happened to be my first piano teacher, plays for the services each week. I saw her Sunday morning before the service began, gave her a hug, and she asked, “Are you playing today?” I smiled, “Yes.” “Want to play for the whole service?” she asked. “I’ll do whatever you want me to do.”

And so, I played the hymns and this precious group of people sang along. I also played my carefully chosen solo. As I began to play, the air grew still. The only sounds flowed from the piano.

The melody in this particular arrangement was a familiar hymn tune. One I remember from childhood. One which brings peace.

I need Thee every hour,
Most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine,
Can peace afford.
I need Thee, O I need Thee,
Every hour I need Thee!
O bless me now, Savior,
I come to Thee.

After the service, many people thanked me for playing. Truthfully, I should have been thanking them. Being with them reminded me of how sweet it is when people worship together in simplicity.

Experiencing last Sunday morning from behind the piano (my favorite spot 😉 ) filled my heart and soul to overflowing.

Songs and Faces

I love the way one single song can bring a flood of memories to my mind.  I experience this phenomenon quite often.  The memory may be an event, a feeling, a person…today it was a specific group of people.

These particular individuals happen to be talented musicians. It was my privilege, playing music with them at many a Sunday service in times past.  Circumstances have changed, taking some of us in different directions, to different places. But there was something special about the time we worked together, rehearsing hours each week preparing for Sunday services.

I’ve been playing piano in church since I was a little girl.  We won’t do the math-trust me, that’s a long time! Having taken some time away to rest and refocus, I recently began playing again.  Though the rest was much needed, the return feels like a visit with an old friend.

That brings us to today.  Currently I participate in a traditional service-piano, organ, choir, orchestra.  However, this particular service was different, a beautiful combination of modern and traditional. One of the modern songs was “Great I Am.”

I was excited to see it on the set list. Hearing it at rehearsal last week was like a breath of fresh air and an encouraging memory all wrapped into one.

”I want to be near, near to your heart.  Loving the world and hating the dark.”

This morning as we sang those words, the memories flooding my mind were faces. How I miss those faces.  Although things are not the same, those experiences stay with me wherever the journey leads.  And I continue to discover just how much moments spent with this amazing group of people made a lasting impact on my life.